At a parent’s wake, November 2017
You arrive, as at the unfamiliar railroad station
Through which your own memories pass
As the luggage of real people, familiar but
Changed by all the time they have spent
Away from you. Sometimes one of the people
Will reach into their backpack and bring out
Their own memory of your parent, showing
Something you have never known. Then,
As real people do, they leave the station for connections
That will take them to their own lives again.
Your line does not move. Outside, swallows,
Those early summer infidels, bank with reckless
Accuracy against the momentum of all the invisible
In the blurring-by tree I saw the hawk turn its head.
This distance I’ve come to bring you home to find I no longer lived
In there. Well we walked arm in arm to the seats on the wall.
On the other side of the planet nobody called in.
Stood up by the upside down world. By the static sigh
Which could mean anything. By the eye which does not
Recognize. And this way back where the rocks weep ice
Is the only way which is forward
This brief response direct as a laugh because it was
Though you were unable to say my name or know
Who I was though you knew me through some tone or gesture
Is better than a memory of a laugh though the tunnel of grief is long
This goodbye where we are past the why to the final silent letter.
from 20 Poems & Other Translations from the English